Thinking about having an Au Pair?

August 22, 2016 | Leave a Comment

628 x 1200 family in carWhat is an Au Pair?

An Au Pair is a young foreign person aged 18+ who lives as part of the family and is given pocket money (typically £70-£125 per week). In return for pocket money, board and lodging your Au Pair will help you with the children and housework for around 25-35 hours per week.


Au Pairs are seen as being low cost compared to having a professional nanny. They are given a certain amount of pocket money depending on how many hours they help plus full board and lodging.

Au pairs can babysit a couple times a week. You leave the house knowing your children are being looked after by someone you have gained a trusting relationship with.

Having an extra pair of hands around the house is very beneficial when living a busy life. Au pairs can do light house work and other duties around the house. Unlike nannies, Au pairs help you out with simpler tasks around the house. Whereas a nannies sole job is to look after children and nursery duties.

A final pro of having an Au pair is that your children are being introduced to a new culture and language. Living in a world full of diversity it is a good experience for your child to spend time learning about other cultures.


An extra person is staying in your home. This means buying more food, and paying for another person to use your water, electric etc. Therefore expect your bills to be higher than they were before. As well as this, if you are going on holiday and they are coming, you will have to pay for their share etc.

Unlike nannies, Au pairs do not necessarily have the same qualifications. As a result of this, Au pairs should not be left in sole charge of babies and children aged under 3 years. However, they can pick up older children from school / pre-school and babysit. Therefore if you have young children perhaps look at hiring a nanny.

Its worth noting that Au pairs typically like staying with families in London, or in large Towns – preferably a city. If you live in the country side the Au pair will find it isolating and may well become home sick unless you can provide good links to transport, a language course and opportunities to meet with other Au pairs.

Finally, it takes a while to get used to having a stranger in your house with a potential language barrier. Bear this in mind when thinking about an Au pair as the initial few weeks/months may not be easy.

However, like all childcare, different types of childcare work well in different families. With Harmony at Home you will be able to find the perfect childcare for you.

REMEMBER: an Au Pair is not your employee. You can expect most Au Pairs to babysit for 2 nights a week, attend a language course during the week, and generally spend the weekend meeting friends and exploring the UK.

Register here now to find your perfect Au pair.

Harmony at Home Limited. All Rights Reserved, 2016

5 fun rainy day activities

August 19, 2016 | Leave a Comment

The summer holidays are among us, the sun has been shining and playtime activities have been fun. However, the weather can always change and you don’t want your day to be ruined. Here are 5 fun rainy day activities just in case summer goes a little bit wet for a day or two:


Every child loves making and eating cakes, so why don’t you fill your day with baking? However, you don’t simply have to bake unhealthy treats, all over the internet there are healthy alternatives for cakes and family meals. Use baking to help teach your children about healthy eating, show them that making healthy treats is just as fun and tasty. Therefore making a rainy day educational as well as fun.

2. Creating a play

Being stuck indoors can get boring or children become hyperactive. Use their energy by getting them to organize, create and act out a play. They use their imagination, by making props and teaching them to work together to put on a performance. They can spend a whole day preparing the play, and end their day by performing. Everyone can work together, and they can have their own job throughout the day that will help create a great performance at the end.

3. Puppets

Puppets are known to engage children and be an effective resource in multiple different ways. As a result of this, making puppets can be a fun activity and they can also be used to create a play. They can also be used to create good behaviour by getting tasks done around the house. They also make play time more magical. Therefore creating puppets benefits children and yourself.

4. Marble run

You may have odd pieces of the classic marble run game hanging around the house, some bits lost or broken, but your children are insistent on playing. You can make marble run more fun by creating your own marble run track. Grab old loo rolls, tubes and empty containers and get building. Have fun creating your own track and changing it as many times as you wish. Create a competition by creating more than one track and have a prize for the winner of the best marble run.

5. Simple activities

Board games, reading books and playing with their favourite toys. If you have had a nice sunny morning but the afternoon has gone wet and cold you could make a den and spend the afternoon watching films and spending time together playing in the den.

The summer holidays do not have to be expensive. You can use your everyday home resources to create fun, and even bring out old games that you enjoyed as a child and teach them to your children. Remember to keep things simple.

Harmony at Home Limited. All Rights Reserved, 2016

weekend baking

Are you Big School Ready?

August 14, 2016 | Leave a Comment

Be Big School Ready with our Guide

Starting school is a new experience that everyone, child or parent, experience in a different way. No school journey is the same and therefore you sometimes need a helping hand when starting the process. If you have never experienced your child starting school for the first time, then this guide is a quick and easy great read for you.

School being a positive topic of conversation

Some children struggle with change; understandably school transitioning is a difficult time.  However, the process of change can be simple and easier to deal with if they are tackled with early, by making the topic of school a daily or weekly positive conversation within your household through many different activities.

Here are six simple yet useful tips:

  1. Changing their bed time book to their new school’s brochure. Creating excitement and a positive image, just like a bed time story.
  2. Highlighting that their friends from Pre-school or childminders are going to be there, and discuss all the fun things they will be able to play with together. Demonstrating that there isn’t going to be a massive change
  3. Create a game out of their new morning routine: waking up, having breakfast and getting dressed into their new uniform. This means they are practicing their new routine but it is also made fun & exciting
  4. Ask them questions- How do they feel about school? Are there any concerns or worries? & even better, let them ask you questions. But make sure you don’t display signs of nervousness, as they will pick up on that.
  5. Start discussing the school transition early, starting sooner rather than later means the move is less drastic. Plus, it makes the future change easier for both of you to get prepared for and used to.
  6. Look back at old photos of yourself at school or their older siblings- demonstrating that everyone has to go to school and that everyone has fun

Be Prepared

If your child has never attended childcare or pre-school before going to big school, they may struggle with the adjustments of not relying on their parents all the time. To make the adjustments easier, you can focus on and practice the hardest tasks:

  1. Lunch Time- Whether they have packed lunches or canteen, spend time practicing feeding themselves. If they are going to have a lunch box, make lunch at home fun by letting them have their lunch out of their new and exciting lunch boxes
  2. Washing & Drying Hands- Make sure to highlight hand washing, school is busy and a rush therefore highlighting hand washing is important as they will very easily forget during the excitement of new friends and lunch time, especially if their mum isn’t nagging them to wash their hands!
  3. Using the Toilet- Spend time practicing the easiest and most efficient way of going to the toilet, e.g. undressing and re-dressing themselves, and wiping correctly
  4. Personal Hygiene- Discussing simple things like using a tissue when they have a runny nose or sneeze and putting their hand over their mouth when they cough. Plus, washing their hands after blowing their nose, sneezing and going to the toilet
  5. Keeping Tidy- Tidying up at the end of the day, or before lunch will be an important part of their first few years at school. Therefore, emphasizing keeping their bedrooms clean or tidying up their toys at the end of the day is an easy way to ease them into cleaning up after themselves at school
  6. Responsibilities- As they get closer to school, you could start giving them little jobs around the house to highlight their importance and also to show them that they will have to help others when at school
  7. Getting Dressed- Learning to get dressed without their parent’s help is very important as they will have physical education some days and therefore will need to be able to get themselves ready quickly.

Therefore, spending time teaching them how to get dressed is very important and can be done when they are practicing their new morning routine (in the section above)

Your own ‘Personal Survival Checklist’ for the weeks ahead

  1. Knowing drop-off and pick-up times
  2. Where the drop-off and pick-up points are
  3. Who is picking up and dropping off your child: if you have a childminder do they know that they are doing school runs, and does your child know who will be picking them up. In the first few weeks, teachers will be very aware of who is picking up and dropping off their pupils. Therefore, its best to also make sure they are aware that multiple different people will be collecting/dropping-off your child.
  4. Do you have all the necessary equipment and uniform- PE Kit, book bag, enough school uniform etc.
  5. Do you know if school canteen is provided or if your child has to take their own lunch? If you have to provide a lunch, do you have a lunch box ready and are you aware of other school children having allergies and therefore are aware of foods you can and cannot pack in their lunchbox.
  6. Is everything name ready? Making sure every piece of uniform and equipment has your child’s surname on it is a great way of making sure nothing of theirs gets lost or taken by another pupil by accident. – this is also a great way of helping your child learn their own name, and can be something you practice over time.
  7. Finally, do you know what day school starts and what time? Some school’s may do half days to settle their pupils in, therefore make sure your work timetable is ready for the first few weeks ahead

What to Expect During the First Few Weeks

Every child reacts differently in their first few weeks, so there are different things you could expect:

  • Influenced by Other Children-

As they are starting a new school and meeting new children, they can easily be influenced by other children and therefore be prepared for answering back or saying things they would never normally say. But you can nip this in the bud by highlighting the fact that this behavior is not tolerated at home etc. If their behavior is really worrying you, feel free to go into school and speak to their teacher about these changes.

  • Expect Behavior Change-

Some children may find it difficult to deal with the transition of being away from their parents for a long period of time. So be prepared for your child to become clingy and upset in the mornings when saying good bye, or not wanting to get up and get ready for school.

  • Finally, remember to keep an open mind and be prepared for all different eventualities.

Remember that every child reacts differently to big school and some will find it easier than others, but if your child is struggling, don’t let this stress you out as over time they will quickly adapt and fit in well.

Harmony at Home Limited. All Rights Reserved, 2016

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